Sunday 1 June 2014


Data-mining Kenyan Patents

For the data geeks among us (including this Leo, proudly embracing his geeky-ness), some data-mining of all patents and Utility Model Certificates issued by KIPI (Kenya's patent office) revealed the following:

Patents that mention 'tea' in the title or abstract
UMCs that mention 'tea' in title or abstract
Patents that mention 'pharmaceutical' or 'drug' in the title or abstract
UMCs that mention 'pharmaceutical' or 'drug' in the title/ abstract
Patents that mention 'insecticide' in the title or abstract
UMCs that mention 'insecticide' in the title or abstract
Local addresses for the 'owners' (patents)
Local addresses for the 'owners' (UMCs)
Foreign addresses for the 'owners' (patents)
Foreign addresses for the 'owners' (UMCs)
Patents with a single inventor
UMCs with a single inventor

In this data set (representing nearly all patents and UMCs issued until mid-2013) there
were roughly 600 issued patents and 44 issued UMCs. The fact that 39 patents (roughly 6.5%) mention "tea" is quite astounding, and shows that locally important commodities do factor into patent filings (at least somewhat). On the other hand, the fact that there are no UMCs mentioning "tea" is curious, since virtually all UMCs appear to be locally-owned.
Who are you calling a geek?

The top five patent-filing entities were all foreign, although were surprisingly not all pharmaceutical companies:
1. Bayer CropScience AG (agribusiness, 42 patents)
2. Sanofi SA (pharmaceuticals, 28 patents)
3. Syngenta Participations AG (agribusiness, 24 patents)
4. Tetra Laval Holdings & Finance SA (Food packaging, 22 patents)
5. Unilever PLC (personal care products, 22 patents)

Only a few entities managed to have more than one issued UMC:
1. Kenbox Industries Ltd (3)
2. Ambuka Wineries (2)
3. Constance Kinuthia (2)
4. George Kinuthia (2)

Finally, the top three most common foreign countries for the "owners" of the patents were, in order, Germany, the US, and France. 
Leo's so cool,
he's gotta wear shades

Based on this data, it is clear that UMCs are favored by local inventors (not surprisingly), and that agriculture and the pharmaceuticals sector are equally well represented in terms of companies obtaining patents. This latter fact is somewhat surprising given the very high cost of obtaining patents in multiple jurisdictions. This Leo has first-hand experience working with pharma companies and knows that they actively seek patents all over the world, including the developing world. It comes as a bit of a surprise that agri-businesses engage in the same behavior, at least in Kenya. 

(Special thanks to my assistant, Vallen, for this post.)



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3 June 2014 at 10:14 delete

Isaac, a very interesting and welcome analysis. Hopefully, could you do the same for Patents granted by ARIPO designating Kenya in order to provide a complete picture.

3 June 2014 at 11:03 delete

Thanks Njuguna! Regarding ARIPO patents, we have a bit more limited data because they only make abstracts and titles available (unless the application was also filed in the PCT, in which case full text is available for the application publication). As soon as we have completed uploading the full text of KIPI issued patents we will turn our attention to ARIPO patents, so stay tuned!!